Season Preview: Sydney FC

As season 8 of the A-League moves ever close, here’s part 7 of our extensive league wide preview, today taking a look at Sydney FC.

 

Last Season: 5th. Lost in week 1 of finals to Wellington Phoenix.

Sydney started out alright last season losing just 3 of their opening 12 matches but a 4 game losing streak and 1 win in 8 games left them in a difficult position heading towards the finals- a run which ultimately saw the decision made to change coaches at the end of the season. Following that Sydney went on a good run to end the season, losing just once in their final 7 games which resulted in a 5th place finish and finals football following a final day victory over Newcastle. They then came back from 2-0 down in Wellington, only to lose 3-2 in the 1st minor semi-final.

Manager: Ian Crook.
Ian Crook is no stranger to Sydney FC; he was assistant there in the early years under Pierre Litbarski and Terry Butcher before moving on in his coaching career in Japan and England. He returned 3 seasons ago now as Sydney FC’s NYL coach before being given the top job this season when Viteslav Lavicka departed.

Style wise Crook has promised to bring a possession based game to Sydney similar to that which has been successful for Brisbane in recent seasons. We shall see how that works out for him, but it helps to have someone of Alessandro Del Piero’s quality.

 

Squad:
1. Ivan Necevski, 2. Sebastian Ryall, 3. Fabio Alves, 4. Pascal Boschaart, 5.Nathan Sherlock , 7. Brett Emerton, 8. Adam Griffiths, 9. Paul Reid, 10. Alessandro Del Piero, 11. Dimitri Petratos, 12. Blake Powell, 14. Mitchell Mallia, 15. Terry McFlynn, 16. Joel Chianese, 17. Terry Antonis, 18. Trent McClenahan, 19. Krunoslav Lovrek, 20. Vedran Janjetovic, 21. Yairo Yau, 22. Ali Abbas, 23. Rhyan Grant, 24. Hagi Gligor, 25. Daniel Petkovski.
Ins:

Fabio Alves (Melbourne Victory), Adam Griffiths (Hangzhou Greentown), Paul Reid (Insee Police United-Thailand), Alessandro Del Piero (Juventus), Blake Powell (Sydney FC NYL), Mitchell Mallia (Sydney FC NYL), Trent McClenahan (Central Coast Mariners), Krunoslav Lovrek (Qingdao Jonoon), Vedran Janjetovic (Sydney United), Yairo Yau (Sporting San Migulito), Ali Abbas (Newcastle Jets), Hagi Gligor (Sydney FC NYL), Daniel Petkovski (Sydney FC NYL).
Outs:

Liam Reddy (Esteghlal- Iran), Jamie Coyne (Sriwijaya FC- Indonesia), Michael Beauchamp (Western Sydney Wanderers), Bruno Cazarine (Released), Shannon Cole (Western Sydney Wanderers), Juho Makela (HJK Helsinki), Mark Bridge (Western Sydney Wanderers), Scott Jamieson (Perth Glory)

 

Key in: Alessandro Del Piero

Could it be anyone else other than Sydney’s latest marquee man? Even in his short stint in Australia, Del Piero has already given a lot to Australian Football through the media attention his signing garnered. Expectations will be high for ADP but he’s more than capable of meeting, and exceeding those. Before ADP signed, I would have mentioned Panama international Yairo Yau here, so keep a look out for him in wide areas for Sydney this season.
Key out: Nick Carle

Yes, it’s only a loan, and yes he was replaced by Del Piero, but Sydney will miss the quality of Carle. Towards the end of last season he began to show what he’s truly capable as Sydney made a late run towards the finals. Now on a yearlong loan at Baniyas in the UAE –the same club who wanted Erik Paartalu- it will be interesting to see if Carle returns to the Harbour City next season.

Possible starting line-up:

 

Strengths: Depth and pace upfront.

In Chianese, Mallia, Yau, Petratos and Abbas Sydney have a wealth of quick and tidy options to play off the likes of Antonis, Lovrek and Del Piero, the question for Crook will be selecting the right combinations of players to get the job done. Nice problem for a manager to have however.

 

Weaknesses: Central midfield.
The one potential weak spot in what is an impressive squad for Sydney is the centre of the park. They have a few options there but there seems to be some question marks over almost all of their options. Is Antonis ready to step up and be a leader in the middle? What have McFlynn and Reid got to offer at the later stages of their careers? What will Jason Culina be able to do if/when he returns after a nearly 2 year layoff?  2 potential solutions for Crook that me may try here are Adam Griffiths stepping forward into the #6 position with Ryall as a central defender, or one of Emerton or Rhyan Grant in the middle. Personally I suspect Emerton may start the season at RB, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him play centrally at some stage.
One to watch: Terry Antonis

I probably said this last season, but Terry Antonis is due for a breakout season. Now 18 and a regular in the Australian junior national teams, the gifted midfielder has to cement a regular starting place in Ian Crook’s new looked Sydney. The Crook style should suit him, now it’s up to him to show why he is so highly regarded.

Record vs. Brisbane:
Played 23: Won 9, Lost 6, Drawn 8. Goals for 22, Goals against 20. Goal dif +2.

 

Last Season:
Round 2:
Sydney FC 0-2 Brisbane Roar
Round 9:
Sydney FC 2-0 Brisbane Roar
Round 16:
Brisbane Roar 2-1 Sydney FC

 

When do we play:
Round 7:
Suncorp Stadium
Round 20: Allianz Stadium
Round 27: Suncorp Stadium

Pre-Season record:
Macarthur Rams 1-3 Sydney FC
St George Saints 0-5 Sydney FC
Sydney FC 2-4 Adelaide United
Sydney FC 1-1 Newcastle Jets
Brisbane Roar 5-1 Sydney FC

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